By: Sydney Thompson, EPICentre Program Lead
Working in an entrepreneurship incubator comes with many perks, one of them being the constant buzzing energy in the space – so many minds, so many talents and so many people trying to come up with creative solutions to solve complex problems. Anyone who has been to EPICentre before knows this is usually a very busy time for us. Each summer, we run a full-time accelerator program named the RBC EPIC Founders Program. I have been fortunate to lead this program for my second year consecutively. Normally, this program would be held in person, meaning participants would be required to work at EPICentre full-time for the duration of the 12-week program. Because of COVID-19, we have been running the program virtually, for the first time, since early May of 2020.
The RBC EPIC Founders Program is a great showcase of the talent Windsor possesses. This year, the program welcomed twelve founders that makeup seven startups. This year’s participants come from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, including undergraduate and graduate alumni and current students. Since the Founders Program was scheduled to operate virtually, participants from different parts of the region (London, Toronto, and Detroit) were able to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Typically, the Founders Program participants would have full access to our co-working space at the University of Windsor, but this year, the program members were dealt with the task of working completely virtual – something entirely new to us at EPICentre as well.
The pandemic certainly challenged myself for how I handle rapid change, but technology made my transition to online incredibly seamless. There are countless tools that enable us to ‘be with each other’ without being physically together; and that’s a truly powerful thing. Most of the RBC EPIC Founders Program structure remains the same as before, the only visible difference is not being able to connect physically in the space. While I truly miss the buzzing environment at EPICentre, I can confidently say that energy has not gone away. I am blown away by this year’s engagement and commitment to the program, especially considering the hardship some have endured during this global crisis.
The program is set to commence on August 7th, 2020. Before then, I am very excited to share more with you over the next few weeks. Make sure to stay up to date on our socials – lots more to come!